Mist rose steadily in clouds from the storm water creek as we started the day with a morning walk. The crisp air reddened cheeks and numbed hands even as the sun rose bright and clear in the unclouded blue sky.
In the depths of midwinter we decided that it was time to clean. To purge the old, save that which is needed and useful, and shed the superfluous in favour of simmering down to essentials. From the sorting and shifting, the de-scaling of our lives, there arises a sense of rebirth, of purity, of the elemental needs of life that are exposed when we chose to lose the clutter. It can however be a little exhausting, a little exposing, and soul-wearying. At the end of a day like this a soothing spiced lentil stew studded with sweet potato and peppered with kale serves to warm and restore.
Soothing Spiced Lentil Stew
A blend of spices lends this stew depth of flavour. I owe a great debt to Nigel Slater as this is adapted from one of his wonderfully warming recipes.
Serves 2 but is easily doubled, or makes great leftovers for a single girl like me.
- 1 medium brown onion, diced
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 150g dried Puy lentils
- 500mL water
- 1 tsp powdered vegetable stock
- Few stems of kale
- Natural yoghurt, to serve.
- In a large saucepan heat a dash of olive oil. Add the diced brown onion and sweet potato. Cover with lid and cook on a low heat until onion has softened.
- Add paprika, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Stir to distribute spices, and take a moment to revel in their fragrance.
- To this pot add Puy lentils, water, and powdered vegetable stock. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. The lentils should still be firm and the sweet potato soft.
- While the lentils are simmering away add a splash of olive oil to another smaller pan. Keep on a low heat and add thinly sliced red onion. Cover and cook until onion is golden brown; then, add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
- Remove stems from kale and roughly chop the curly leaves. Add to the cooked lentils and cover so that the kale wilts into the stew.
- Serve lentils topped with onions and a dollop of natural yoghurt.
Allow the stew to soothe you, and the spices to restore your soul. Then sit back and take in the night, and the new start that every dawn brings.